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Sister of woman killed in Westmead pleads for law change

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April 28, 2018 by admin

THE sister of a woman whose husband slashed her throat with a box cutter but escaped a murder conviction on the grounds he was ”provoked” by his wife’s verbal abuse has implored a NSW parliamentary inquiry to change the law.
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In June, Westmead man Chamanjot Singh was sentenced to six years in jail after being found guilty of manslaughter, rather than murder, for attacking his wife, Manpreet Kaur, and cutting her throat eight times.

A jury accepted his claim that he had been provoked by threats from Ms Kaur that she would have him deported and comments that she loved another man.

The case sparked calls from state MPs, victims’ advocates and campaigners against domestic violence for the partial defence of provocation to be overturned in NSW. It has already been abolished in Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia.

A parliamentary inquiry tasked with reviewing the law will hold its first public hearing tomorrow.

In an emotional and detailed submission to the inquiry, the victim’s younger sister, Jaspreet Kaur, has called for the law to be changed, arguing that Singh escaped justice.

Ms Kaur claims Singh had been violent towards his wife in the past and that there was no evidence of another man with whom her sister was romantically involved. She accused him of making up the claim to excuse his violence.

”Chamanjot was lying in all these matters,” she alleges.

”If this is the law of NSW, then anybody can kill someone because they know if they say in the court, I lose my self control, they will get out after three or four years.”

Provocation is one of several partial defences to murder in NSW which results in the lesser charge of manslaughter.

It is established where an attacker loses control based on actions or words of the deceased person, and where those actions could have induced an ordinary person to lose self-control.

A report by the Victorian Law Reform Commission, which found the law ”partly legitimates killings committed in anger”, resulted in its abolition in that state in 2005. But many in the legal fraternity have urged the inquiry to retain the law.

The NSW Bar Association, the Law Society of NSW, the NSW Council for Civil Liberties and the prominent Senior Counsel Winston Terracini, are among those who have called for the law to be retained in their submissions, with several stating the defence is an important recognition that the law must have a concession to ”human frailty”.

”Without such a defence available, many injustices are likely to occur – especially where accused persons respond to significant acts of violence but in a manner which cannot be characterised as self-defence,” the submission from the Bar Association states.

Rather than improving justice for victims of domestic violence, some have argued removing the law will see female victims of domestic violence who kill their male partners more likely to be convicted of murder, rather than having that charge downgraded to manslaughter.

”Abolishing provocation would be detrimental to women who have killed partners after long periods of domestic violence,” Justin Dowd, the president of the Law Society, wrote in his submission.

The inquiry will sit for two public hearings, tomorrow and on Wednesday.

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